A man accused of violently assaulting a female FBI employee walking home after work – just three blocks from the agency’s San Francisco office in the heart of the Tenderloin – pleaded not guilty today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Alex Tse.
Akal Calvert-Damu Allen (aka Akal Allen) requested a new attorney during the hearing and the federal public defender assigned to him was relieved as his counsel as a result.
According to an affidavit supplied to the court, Akal Calvert-Damu Allen (aka Akal Allen) approached the woman on the early evening of Friday June 8 and “without provocation” punched her in the face, immediately breaking her nose.
He struck her one more time before fleeing, later attacking other pedestrians.
At an earlier hearing the court was told that Allen’s rap sheet “is over 100 pages long and he has convictions for battery, assault, sex crimes, vandalism, and drugs, as well as countless arrests and contacts with law enforcement.”
The court’s attention was drawn to recent arrests which were said to illustrate an escalating pattern of worrying behavior: including a December 2022 arrest in San Francisco for assault and battery and a June 2022 arrest in San Francisco for assault with a deadly weapon.
The victim – a crisis management specialist working for the FBI’s counter terrorism branch – had left the Phillip Burton Federal Building at 6:35pm and begun walking west on Turk Street and then north on Polk Street. Even though she had left the office, the affidavit explained, she was on call.
Video footage showed Allen leaving his residence on O’Farrell Street at about the same time. Moments later he happened across the victim on Polk Street, blocking her way and yelling angrily at her. The woman attempted to step around Allen only for him to step in front of her again and launch the assault.
Passers-by came to the victim’s aid and she was transported to an emergency department nearby. One week later she was rushed back to the ER suffering from partial facial paralysis, jaw-tightening, and being unable to keep her eyes open – later diagnosed as post-concussion syndrome due to the assault.
After the attack, Allen continued walking and was later seen attempting to attack a man who was able to escape. As he walked he yelled at passers-by. He threatened to assault a witness (calling her a “bitch”) and threw a rock at both her and another witness.
Granting the Government’s motion to detain at Allen’s first appearance on June 29, 2023, U.S. Magistrate Judge Sallie Kim remarked on the defendant’s dangerousness.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a criminal history as long as this, often directed towards strangers, often directed toward women,” she said.
“Mr Allen’s history of criminal violence is so long and escalating in nature, I do not feel comfortable releasing Mr Allen based on risk alone.”
On hearing that he was to be detained, the defendant began loudly addressing the courtroom: “She’s terrified! She’s terrified!” he said, referring to the judge. “You may as well sentence me to life now.”
The court heard that most of the defendant’s family live in the Detroit area, with none nearby, and that the defense had not yet been able to reach them.
Allen faces between 46-57 months’ imprisonment if convicted. He remains in custody ahead of a further hearing on July 11 to identify a new attorney.
San Francisco Police Department refused a request to provide a booking photo from one of Mr Allen’s previous city arrests, citing a department policy not to release photos.
“This policy,” said SFPD Chief William Scott in 2020, “emerges from compelling research suggesting that the widespread publication of police booking photos in the news and on social media creates an illusory correlation for viewers that fosters racial bias and vastly overstates the propensity of black and brown men to engage in criminal behavior.”
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